Recent listening, current

Thursday, May 23, 2013

104. Clifford Brown & Max Roach / Study in Brown (1955)

Study in Brown is a really enjoyable record. What's memorable, to me, in this Brown-Roach date from 1955, isn't just Brown's exceptional talent on the trumpet, but his talent as composer ("Sandu" is here) and contributions of tenor Harold Land on the front line. Between their instrumental abilities and composed works, the band is a really good combination. A bit like the Cookbook series by Eddie Davis, Brown and Roach went in the studio a few times and each time, the chemistry cooked something special. This set runs from blues to bop to standards, and through a variety of tempos. In the opening "Cherokee," Land can match Brown phrase for phrase at breakneck speed, and the wailing fragility of his reed provides additional texture and urgency. In each tune, Roach gets a lot of room, naturally, carving out his niche in jazz percussion with driving, melodically inspired solos on snares and toms. "Take the 'A' Train" has a really cool introduction and arrangement, and the jaunty "Gerkin for Perkin" keeps it interesting with a cool stop/start rhythm that causes Roach to kick up some dust. Such freshness, vibrancy and joy flows from this recording. It's almost hard to listen and not be overwhelmed by the sad feeling of knowing that Brown would be gone in less than a year.

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